Researching the history of your property can be an extremely rewarding experience. So many people have no idea of the rich history that may be associated with their properties. Every historic resource is part of its community’s physical and historic context. Historic research, even on a very basic level, can often provide very interesting information about a property. When and by whom it was built; what was its original configuration; and how did the property evolve over time in response to changing programmatic needs. Historic research should also be the first step when undertaking renovations or additions to your historic property. The information gained should help guide the decisions of the owner, design team, and contractor.
Historic research can be done by professionals or the property owner themselves. The internet has provided access to amazing amounts of information. In Chester County we are lucky because those who came before us were quite diligent in documenting the events and physical history of their communities. Local, regional, and state archives can be very helpful sources of information.
We provide the following information to help the property owner get started.
How To Research Your Property
Head to the Chester County Historical Society to explore their collections of maps, newspaper clippings, and other items.
The Chester County Recorder of Deeds should retain files on every recorded deed for your property.
The Chester County Planning Commission also maintains file cabinets full of information on the historic resources of the county. Chances are, if your property is historic, there is a file on it in this office!
Inventories of Historic Properties
Township, Borough or City Inventory
Contact your local township, borough or city manager to see if your building is currently listed in the local inventory. If it is not, but you feel it should be, request information from the manager on who can help you add your resource to the local inventory.
Chester County Historic Resources Atlas
Pennsylvania Survey Form
The state historic preservation office is the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and its Bureau of Historic Preservation maintains the state inventory of historic resources. To list your property in the state inventory, you must prepare or hire a consultant to prepare a PHMC Survey Form.
National Register of Historic Places
Listing a property on the National Register of Historic Places is a multi-step process. Check out their webpage for information on the process and the forms.
Because of the great number of resources that may be eligible for listing in the National Register, the historical significance of the property must be thoroughly researched, and the form must be very well prepared. Today, this often means hiring a consultant to undertake the work.